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Are you trying to figure out how to legally obtain a second citizenship and passport?
If you’re lucky enough to have ancestors from places like Poland, Italy or Ireland, then obtaining a second passport is very straightforward—that is, assuming you can document your family ancestry.
However, for most people who aren’t part of this fortunate bloodline club, obtaining dual citizenship or a second passport requires one of three things...
Having dual citizenship allows you to become a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. While not all countries allow you to hold two (or more) passports at the same time such as India or China, most such as the USA, Canada and the UK. And there are those countries where its a grey zone, like Germany, Panama, and Singapore where it is generally not allowed, however, the rule is not absolute.
There are four primary ways to acquire second citizenship:
Many countries allow you to easily acquire citizenship if you can prove that you have ancestral ties. This is especially prevalent in parts of Europe. For some countries, you need to prove that your direct parents were born there, but for others (e.g. Lithuania), you can qualify for ancestral citizenship even if your great grandparents were born there.
Citizenship by descent is usually free, the process can be finished quickly and is undoubtedly the best way to obtain second citizenship if you qualify.
The process of acquiring citizenship by naturalisation usually involves living in a country for a specific number of years as a permanent resident before qualifying to apply for full citizenship. Obtaining permanent residency is the first step which usually requires spending more than 183 days a year for x number of years.
The requirements for acquiring full citizenship can vary greatly from country to country. You could qualify for citizenship in as little as three years in some cases (e.g. Paraguay, Armenia, Dominican Republic), or well over 10 years in other cases (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). The specific requirements regarding how much time you need to actually spend in the country, whether you need to establish economic ties, know the language, history or constitution depends upon the country.
Panama is the easiest place in the world to establish residency under the so-called Panama 'Friendly Nations Visa'.
It’s a straightforward process that involves setting up a local company and opening a bank account with a fairly small sum. You don’t even have to spend time in the country.
And after five years, you’re eligible to apply for naturalization.
Naturalisation is the most time-consuming way to become a dual citizen, but it not the only option. Although it is affordable it is only for individuals who desire to live in the country on a more permanent basis.
Citizenship by marriage is another form of naturalisation. Most countries in the world can give you a second passport if you marry a citizen such as Canada, Ireland, France, and the United States. However, this is not a viable citizenship strategy. Sham marriage arrangements are a bit risky. Not only can you get in trouble and kicked out by the government if you are caught but you are easy prey to extortion by the arranged spouse.
A growing number of countries are offering what is known as citizenship by investment or economic citizenship. These are aimed at individuals who are looking to acquire dual citizenship in the fastest and easiest way possible. In exchange for a real estate purchase or an economic donation anywhere around 100,000 USD Dominica and Vanuatu to upwards of 1-2 million for citizenship in places such as Malta and Cyprus you can get a passport in as little as 3-6 months.
There are generally no residency requirements or any minimum number of days that you are required to live there per year. In fact, you do not even need to visit the country beforehand, it can all be done online, the citizenship lasts for life and can be passed down for future generations.
The most popular places to ‘buy’ second citizenship or golden visas are the Caribbean Island nations. There are about five options available in the Caribbean and they are generally the simplest and most affordable to obtain.
If you decide on the Caribbean, you also benefit as most islands have no taxes, all the passports are ranked very well allowing 140+ countries you can visit with visa-free travel, together with the ability to live in some of the most picturesque and liveable destinations in the world.
Some of the best citizenship by investment programs are from countries like:
Though all have official economic citizenship programs or golden passport opportunities that can be purchased through a real estate investment or a donation of upwards of 100,000-150,000 USD depending on the country.
The cheapest citizenship-by-investment program, such as Dominica’s still runs into six figures, hardly a trivial sum for most, and the others are all in the mid-six-figure or higher bracket.
If you’re flexible with your time and lifestyle though, you can obtain citizenship in one of these places at relatively little cost.
Some of the benefits of getting a second passport are:
The benefits of acquiring dual citizenship are inestimable. Having a second passport can lead to significantly higher levels of personal and financial freedom, can provide you with increased security and a plan b if anything goes wrong.
Many are seeing the value of obtaining a second passport in today’s global economy. There are a variety of reasons and uses for acquiring a second citizenship, including:
Whatever your reasons might be, there are many options out there for obtaining a second passport to suit your individual requirements.
It is important to understand that the easiest is not always the best. Before settling on where you would like to acquire a second passport, you need to fully consider what it is you require from your citizenship and whether the country in question fulfills these requirements.
That being said, we will always be looking for the easiest way to do things whether that's for citizenship or anything else, so here is our list of easiest places in the world to get a second passport and citizenship.
The easiest way to obtain Irish citizenship is if you can prove that you have Irish ancestry, i.e. if one of your parents or grandparents are Irish. In this case, you simply need to apply for citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register.
If you do not have Irish ancestry, you can still become an Irish citizen through their naturalisation process by having four years cumulative residency over an eight-year period, followed by one full year of residing in the country.
This means you can become a naturalised citizen after five years residency. This can be reduced to three years if you have an Irish spouse.
Irish citizenship gives you the right to live or work in the European Economic Area and EU. It’s popularity and ease is shown by the fact that Ireland has over 14 million active passports in circulation, but a population of only four million.
Portugal is one of the easiest options for obtaining EU citizenship by naturalisation. The process is straightforward: become a resident of Portugal, and then apply for citizenship after five years.
The best ways are through their Online Worker Visa. You will have to spend at least four months in Portugal during the first year of residency, and thereafter at least 16 months during each two-year period.
Throughout the five years, you cannot leave the country for more than 6 consecutive months. You will also have to prove that you have sufficient means to support yourself. For wealthier individuals, Portugal also offers a fast-track residency option through their Golden Visa program. It is one of the best residency-by-investment programs in the world today but comes with a price tag of roughly 350,000-500,000 EUR.
While there are some financial and physical presence requirements in Portugal, they are far more lax than other EU countries. So, if you want an EU passport but do not have the right ancestry, Portugal may be your best bet. It offers an excellent passport and is a highly liveable country!
The South American nation of Paraguay has proven to be one of the easiest countries in South America to obtain second citizenship by naturalisation. The process takes as little as three years and is available to almost anyone.
The be eligible its required to keep USD 5000 in a Paraguayan bank account and spend a minimum of 183 days per year in the country.
Paraguay has a good passport which offers visa-free travel to 143 countries with most countries in Europe and the whole of South America.
It is possible to become an Armenian citizen by naturalisation in just three years. The first step is obtaining an Armenian residence permit, for which you will need to make an investment in the country.
This investment can be made in real estate (which can be sued as your new home) and other qualifying sectors. You can also qualify for residence by attending the Armenian University. After three years you are eligible to apply for citizenship as long as you spend sufficient time in Armenia to maintain your residency.
The Commonwealth of Dominica's second passport is located in the Caribbean and has an economic citizenship program established in 1991. The second passport program gives citizenship options available through a real estate purchase or a cash donation.
The Island of Dominica has a citizenship program that is one of the cheapest golden passports you can find. With an investment of 100,000 USD in cash or 200,000 in real estate you become eligible to apply through the country's citizenship by Investment Unit. The average processing time is around 3-6 months, with possibilities of it being expedited.
Israel offers one of the fastest and easiest paths to obtaining dual citizenship under their “Law of Return”. This option is available for all Jewish individuals or those with Jewish ancestry.
This even includes those who convert to Judaism. Those seeking Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return are eligible within a few months after entering Israel.
It is important to consider whether Israeli citizenship is indeed right for you though. Israeli citizens are forbidden from entering certain Islamic countries, and there is a long history of complex politics and foreign relations.
Furthermore, Israeli citizens are officially required to serve in the military for a certain period, however this may be waived in some situations. It is important to confirm whether this would be a requirement.
Panama is considered by many to be the easiest place in the world to obtain residency through their Friendly Nations Visa program. The requirements are simple to fulfill. You just need to come from one of the 50 eligible countries and demonstrate economic ties with the country to apply.
This can be as simple as registering a company and making a deposit of approximately USD 5,000 – 10,000 at a local Panamanian bank. The money can even be withdrawn after residency is obtained.
The great thing about obtaining permanent residency in Panama is that you don’t actually have to live there to maintain your residency. You simply must apply in Panama after two years to renew your residency.
After five years of permanent residency, you can apply for full citizenship by naturalisation. Following this procedure would make Panama one of the easiest places for second citizenship without the need for ancestry or a major economic investment.
Most of this article has focused on those countries which are easiest to obtain citizenship by naturalisation and other affordable means. However, for those who want to speed up the process and have the financial capability, the Caribbean nations offer some of the most affordable and easy citizenship by investment options.
The benefit of these options is that they are extremely fast (usually under 6 months in total), with expedited possibilities in 2-3 months, no residency requirements, the passports can mostly be done online, and you do not need to visit the country before hand.
In all cases, citizenship can usually be obtained through an investment and/or donation of anywhere between USD 100,000 – 250,000. You can find more information about these affordable citizenship by investment programs in our article citizenship by investment.
There are many excellent citizenship by investment programs out there to choose from, but in this article, we will focus on three of the most affordable options. The good thing here is that these three programs are also up there with the best in terms of quality and simplicity. So, this is one of those cases where the cheapest might actually be the best anyway.
For a while, Dominica offered the cheapest second passport available at only USD 100,000. However, it is now tied in first place with St. Lucia. The process is simple: in exchange for a minimum donation of USD 100,000 to Dominica’s Economic Diversification Fund, you can expect to be granted full citizenship within 3 – 9 months.
Dominica also offers the option of making a USD 200,000 investment in approved real estate. This might be preferred for those with more free funds available and who wish to recoup some of there investment in the future.
Dominica’s passport is quite strong and offers visa-free access to 139 countries. These include the Schengen area, the UK and Russia.
St. Lucia’s program is younger than that of Dominica’s, but may be even better value-for-money. The minimum donation requirement is also USD 100,000 making it the joint cheapest option. Thereafter, it takes only 3-4 months to be granted full citizenship.
St. Lucia also allows an approved real estate investment of USD 300,000, as well as the option of investing in government bonds. Experience has shown that the donation options are almost always better and simpler when it comes to these programs.
St. Lucia also offers a good passport with visa-free access to 144 countries. However, unlike the Dominican passport, Russia is not on this list. St. Lucia also offers significant advantages as a new tax home.
Antigua & Barbuda is the third island nation which offers citizenship in exchange for a donation of USD 100,000. However, Antigua also has a processing fee of around USD 25,000 which raises the total cost to USD 125,000. This means it is not quite as competitive as Dominica and St. Lucia, but still offers good value-for-money. Processing time is also around 3 – 4 months.
If one prefers the investment route, Antigua allows a USD 400,000 in real estate. There is also an interesting option of being able to invest USD 400,000 into a business if you are part of a group of other applicants investing USD 5 million collectively.
The Antigua & Barbuda is officially the strongest passport out of these three options, with visa-free travel to 151 countries. Antigua has one significant advantage for family applicants, in that a family of four can apply for the same price as a single applicant. This makes it by far the cheapest option for families or married couples.
As always, there is no clear answer as to which citizenship by investment is the best option. It depends on each individual’s circumstances, needs and preferences. We have listed three of the cheapest options available. If you are a single applicant, then your best bet is probably to choose between Dominica and St. Lucia. Dominica is more ‘Eastern-friendly’ as it is offers visa-free access to Russia and is also establishing connections with China and the UAE. St. Lucia, on the other hand, seems to be more ‘Western-friendly’, and is a marginally stronger passport for now. If you are looking for citizenship for your spouse and children too, then Antigua & Barbuda is undoubtedly the best-value choice.
Other affordable options in the Caribbean are Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis, both at USD 150,000. Budget options outside of the Caribbean include Vanuatu at USD 130,000 and Turkey at USD 250,000.
Finally, if you are interested in one of the more prestigious European passports, two of the best choices in the area are Malta and Cyprus. However, it will set you back about EUR 1 -2 million. If that is not a problem for you, we say go for it!